SORT OF HAIKUS, always 17 syllables, or


1.  The lobby statue / sits with ears up, moving eyes, / and masked m-utterings.
2.  It’s a statue. It’s / a bot. No; it’s a chair-full / of performance art.
3.  Flowers flourish. Some / tending, no trimming. Mother / Nature dresses up.
4.  Bistro coffee is / gone. Charlie’s bittery blend / makes me twittery.
5.  Today we can go / outside again, but it is / raining and cold. Sigh.
6.  Masks take away lip / reading, a big loss for those / who need it to hear.
7.  YOU TUBE’s vinyard sheep / by day; BBC radio / all night Soothers.
8.  No mask. VIOLATION! / Too close. VIOLATION! / Too far. VIO…punch!
9.  Hall walkers think we baa, /  like sheep, or “drop [gaseous, / disastrous] roses”.           10. My apartment door / always stays open, so I /can always get out.

The Good Life: Kindle-d book, filled mug, outdoors near, CHARLIE here, old friends’ ties.

11. Pier beckons. Wheel / chair totes new flag lawn-chair, so / Charlie can sit, too.
12. Charlie says I’m a /  very difficult person. / Goodness knows, I try.
13. Nothing will ever / be the same again, but then / it never was. Sigh.
14. No groups, no outsiders, / delivered meals. / Wear masks, scrub hands often.
15. Deaf-ish, masked colleagues / eat breakfast and talk six feet / apart. It’s loud.                           “WHAT?”
16. With long life, some wisdom, / and 20/20 vision, / we shout, GO, JOE!
17. People meets are few. / Roof seagull “soaps” are many.  I watch. I’m so hooked.
18. Charlie and I read / newspapers differently. / He is good company.
19. My wheelchair could / tote golf-bag and drinks on course / paths. Ready, Charlie?
20. Honeycrisp, I’m over you. / It’s Envy now, / until Cosmic Crisp comes.                              21.  VOTE HIM OUT!        VOTE HIM / OUT!        VOTE HIM OUT!        VOTE                  HIM OUT! / VOTE HIM OUT!      VOTE!        VOTE!

I’ve doodled all my days.  Does that make it a way of life? Or worse, a way of thinking?  Can you imagine an epitaph worse than, “She thought in 17-syllable ideas?”  Probably more, later.


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It’s a dark, very dark day…  Charlie says the apocalypse is upon us; the viral and wildfire smokey particulates are winning.  Disaster Trump  lurks.  And wonderful RBG dies.  I call it the big unpleasantness, because I am his mother.                                                 …but then a gleam of bright right happens.  Looking out our view-full window, we see the Yacht Club-boat with tugboat float by, on it’s  way to be tended.  We waved.  Surely, they smiled.

We waved.  Slight breeze.  Boat people waved.  Tugboats made waves.  Wavelets danced.  No wake.                   (Photo: Mike Siegel/Seattle Times)


If you, as I, think  Trump was elected and still has a chance to be re-elected because too few people know how to tell sense from nonsense, then, if ever, it is time to act.  A read or re-read of The Thread: A Mathematical Yarn by Philip J. Dorian will remind you of how much fun and learning go into a search for information.  Josephine Tey’s mystery,  A Daughter of Time demonstrates the impact of poorly chosen sources.  Then it is time to act.

DAY DIMMERS are among us.  Social media and data science have made finding, choosing and using good sources harder, but… some just know too-little; others are outright info- sinners, e.g.,                                                                                                                      The mask-less who justify themselves with:  “God will protect me.”                                            The racism denier who argues: ” Nothing  has ever happened to me and I am a Latin American.”                                                                                                                                           The patient who disagrees with the MD’s diagnosis or treatment and argues:  “That’s not what it said on Facebook.”                                                                                                          Trump listing “his” “accomplishments”.                                                                                               Attorney General Barr who says that mail-in voting leads to fraud  and, when asked by a reporter why he thought fraud was involved, answered:  “Logic.”

But then,DAY BRIGHTENERS arrive.  HEADLINES say it all.                                         “Getting wise to Fake News [Misinformation on Social Media]” includes health information and online courses.                                                                                “Misinformation is ‘it’s own pandemic’ Among Parents“includes techniques for pushing back on social media and in person.                                                                                         “What I Learned From Trump’s Accomplishments:  Facts are vital.  But they are not sufficient” argues for context, with good examples.                                                                  Barr needs so much. Start with the common sense of logical argument needs evidence, e.g. sources, and bad sources will kill argument.  Then how about a day trip to the library where sources abound.

(Okay, I just wanted to sneak in the biggest Day Brightener Headline of all:  How Libraries Can Save the 220 Election, and the conclusion:  “It’s already clear that neither the president nor Congress nor the Postal Service will do what’s necessary to ensure the integrity of the 2020 election. The library, still among the most revered institutions in our fragile democratic experiment, may well be our best hope.”  YES!  But Barr does need sources, and libraries have lots of them.

So, social media and data science have made finding, choosing and using good sources harder, but..remote learning with it’s connecting capability may be a plus, maybe even a saving grace for those who want to know how to find good sources in today’s world of inter-connectivity, erased records, ever new technologies.


WOEFUL DAY DIMMER:   It’s time to say goodbye to Roseledge.  The days of wine and roses, and blueberries, of morning coffee and pre-and post-dusk parties before the bats meet and eat the mosquitoes, of books and bookish-ness, of Sea Street strolls and harbor life and friends to share all this and more,  those days are over.    Thanks for the memories.  I have sold Roseledge to my neighbor who owns it’s frontage.  It’s time.

It’s true.  I sold Roseledge, place of my heart.  Blame my unwilling body.  (Photo by Charlie)

Un-rosed Roseledge morphs into white cottage-plus outbuilding on Sea Street.  (Photo by Ralph)

And no, I don’t know anything about the long, one-windowed, concrete block behemoth behind it.  Fun, but surely inappropriate, to speculate.  Probably not a “harbor” to store a replica of the medieval Irish boat that preceded the Viking voyages, but maybe.

DAY BRIGHTENER:  Charlie and I, with Scott’s help, are making a Roseledge documentary, ala Ken Burns.  Aim high, I say.   Surely, it will go through many iterations, as Charlie and I disagree, often, about who is in control.  He says I am a difficult person.  Goodness knows, I try.  I almost put myself to sleep on my first three-minute effort.  Being peppier might help.  AARRGGHH!  More later.

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We were quarantined again.  Fortunately, Day Brighteners were not.  These are some of my favorites.

Forever lattes!  Charlie has a new phone which means that, with the Starbucks’ mobile app he can now upload, he can always pick-up lattes, even if the governor reverts to mega closings.  But he still won’t ask for extra hot and less foam on my order.  He says I am a difficult person.  It’s a mother’s gift and Charlie is a recurring Day Brightener. 

With selfie-apt phone, Charlie does exist and mom becomes background.  Sigh.

Visual sources alert!  We know too little about reading maps and appreciating multi-media news stories or Ken Burns’ documentaries.  Too few have read, and even fewer have appreciated, Edward Tufte’s books, e.g. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, or my personal favorite, Errol Morris’s Believing is Seeing.  Trump’s continuing show makes clear that too many people are still fooled by lies and the lying liars who tell them.  (Remember the magic marker hurricane map episode or the COVID incidence chart in his interview with the Australian reporter?) Visual literacy is a complex issue, sure, but two good starter-read Day Brighteners in yesterday’s NYT explain how to ‘read’ weather maps and how the NYT visual investigations team built a news story from mixed media.  The NYT online edition has great maps, complex charts, and photo essays, all good information sources just waiting to become evidence in someone’s better argument.


Good ideas, good cheer!  A condo-dwelling retiree, who walks, likes to garden,  and was looking for a project, saw  big, healthy lawns, surely just waiting to become a flower business.  She chose yards, interviewed owners, planted, then tended, seeds and voila! Her cut flowers for sale in two stores.  She even had a mini-CSA of households who wanted a bouquet a week.  Such a good idea!  Okay, I may be drawn to her by memories of the Roseledge Books creation story which Charlie and I and Scott, my truth-in-telling rescuer, are trying to relive in a Ken Burns-ish adventure,  which makes it a double or triple Day Brightener.


Screened window compromise. My floor to ceiling window may be the biggest Day Brightener of all, literally and figuratively.

Sunny day calls. Sheltered, in silhouette, I read and look. Hair tells all

All this reading called for discipline.  Too many comfort reads, mostly mystery series, do not a mind enliven.  So I began, and am continuing, a schedule of reading 10 to 25 percent of a thought-provoking book interspersed with old or potentially new favorites.  For instance, I have just finished Hope Jahren’s excellent The Story of More, interspersed with  Julia Spenser-Fleming’s Hid From Our Eyes, Joe Eid’s High Five, Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin (Next time, maybe I’ll try again a Tara French mystery.) and John Grisham’s Camino Winds.  I started Scott Turow’s  The Last Trial, but it was too textbook-ish.

Now I am reading Bernard Bailyn’s Illuminating History, a working memoir like Robert Caro’s Working, which I loved as a “how he did” the research for his bios of Robert Moses and now LBJ, which, so far, is 3 of 5 volumes and counting, and Robert Caro is 84 – and counting.  I am currently interspersing with Daniel Silva’s The Order because I needed to remember that we are one among others in a world of gray relationships, Paul Doiron’s One Last Lie (Maine),  Owen Laukkanen’s Lone Jack Trail (Olympic Peninsula)  Elly Griffith’s The Lantern Men (academics, so maybe also Julie Schumacher’s The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls), and who can resist a mystery by a Literature Nobelist?  So also included is Olga Tokarczuk Drive Your Plow Over Bones of the Dead.  Seven interspersers because Historian Bailyn “illuminates” seven historical documents.

Charlie is threatening to dismantle my Kindle 1-click ordering.  But he knows I would talk him to death if he did.  Every mother has her ways.


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JUST IN: A COVID-maybe worker lurks and we are confined…again.              

The COVID comes, the COVID goes … up and down, but never away.  Sigh.

Life is Groundhog Day, temporarily sheltering (now,even more)-in-place  Thank heavens for Day Brighteners, like Tim Wu’s NYT op-ed that argues small flour mills may save our economy.   Then he highlights King Arthur and Maine Grains, which calls to mind my ND roots, always a happy thought.

Not to brag because that is unbecoming, but my Non-Partisan-League forbears, in order to make the world a better place for ND’ans and thwart the Minneapolis milling, banking and railroad robber barons, started the still existing State Mill And Elevator and the   ND State Bank, which was recently featured positively in the Washington Post.  A state railroad was planned, but I don’t think it was ever actually born.   My dad’s Coghlan family was politically involved e.g. mayor, county commissioner, 2 or 3 uncles in the state legislature.  Stories abound, and my uncle John, like my dad, a 3rd generation ND’an but not a Coghlan, tried to keep them honest.

So when in 1961 I received a generous wedding gift from Joe Coghlan and did not know who he was, dad said he was his uncle who had served in the ND state legislature.  Then he said, “He must be on the right side of the fence,” which I assumed meant he had switched political parties, but no.  As John explained, it meant he was out of prison.  Uncle Joe apparently defrauded the Federal government, which made him a kind of local hero.  Or so the family tells it.  John smiles.  Anyhow, my dad, uncle John, the Non Partisan League, and ND State Mill were all pluses in my world.  So you go, Maine Grains!


Another Day Brightener  was the flag wrapped folding flag chair Charlie found on sale at Fred Meyer.  This means we can be Pier denizens longer and more comfortably as the other Pier sitters decide if we are Trump supporters, protesters, delayed hippies, or just people with a rolled-up chair in search of a fanny?

Action shot:  Watching geese moon us and poop at the same time.  I figure, and hope, it was a good, and rare, omen.  I should have looked away.

No, I am not waiting for Godot.  I AM waiting for Charlie to get a phone that can add a selfie stick so you will know we are both here and that  can add the app Starbucks requires when ordering a pick-up latte during the lock down.

Action shot: Going rogue patriotically or leading the attack on Albert, the junker, from Homer?

REALLY BIG Day Brightener is very  good news that the Pier will stay open after August for at least a time and maybe for always.  Suspect COVID delays are involved.  Here’s to Richard Fernandez, best project manager EVER.


Susan, our ongoing Day Brightener, routinely hands out things to do.  The best so far, IMHO, is Book Bingo, a paper grid with topic boxes, e.g. travel, pets uplifting, in which we are to put summer reading choices.  Five filled boxes across or down means BINGO.

For fun, I filled them all with some title.  I learned that I had to stretch it for pets, animals, sci-fi / fantasy and myth / fable, reword some boxes, and add at least politics, law, occupations, economics, and other people/cultures.  I realized I have read a lot set in the Middle East, but almost none set in Europe.  Interesting tool to see if I remain one with my Liberal Arts world view.

For those of us who check out bookshelves wherever we are, and I suspect we are legion, especially now with mostly zoomed interviews, did you see on Tom Hanks’ shelves transcriptst of 70o hours of secret LBJ telephone recordings?  Is he getting ready for an LBJ biopic, with the tapes and Robert Caro’s person and books, neither of which I actually saw?

And finally, beautiful Vermont from a drone.  Always beautiful, but when looking at nature from a distance, patterns appear and suggest a learning different from a hiker’s, biker’s, or kayaker’s  appreciation.  Lovely, and, good for same ‘ol Groundhog days, engrossing.

And now I am off to the gym for one-on-one pulley work. GO LEFT SHOULDER, pull, pull. Then, with best intentions and some guilt (yes, shame still works), I will post again, sooner.  Yikes..

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AVOIDING THE VIRAL CONTAGION LIFESTYLE NOTES:  We of the poetry group met  monthly to have fun with  favorite poems.  My choices always seemed to be better with a change or two.  For instance, Emily Dickinson’s poem “To Make a Prairie” reads more like a description of a bee frolicking in a clover-covered front yard with a wild rose bush and an Adirondack chair..  Good grief! No field or big sky or meadowlark in sight.  What is a child of North Dakota to do?  So I changed Emily Dickinson’s poem, though the scan is a tad off.  Maybe to subvert this contrariness, fearless leader Gary, asked us to ready a poem of our own, a limerick of 8 lines with 4 rhyming couplets, for the next time our group of 12 can meet and shout through masks from a proper social distance.  Here is my most appropriate, best and only effort so far:

MAY 2020

I used to go to Maine in May,                                                                                                             In time for the parade on Memorial Day.                                                                                      I’d open the bookstore for those who read                                                                                    And love the arguments wherever they lead.

Now I’m a Seattle-r trying to fit                                                                                                               With less-foamy lattes and the wit, I admit,                                                                                   Of Charlie’s gull-sqwacks and dog clipper cuts                                                                                  And with masks and Pier walks.  No COVID, not  nuts.


So in the spirit of a Seattler-newbie during COVID, agreeing to anything to be outdoors, I am, with Charlie’s enthusiastic! efforts, using pier time to become aware of the local celebrities docked nearby.  Appreciating them is for another day.  So can you find the TV star in the pictures?  No fair if you watch “Deadliest Catch.”

Note the Northwestern, not my unfortunate COVIDian haircut.

See the distant Pinnacle. See me getting away from Charlie. Splash.

Albert, the junker, or happy-colored ketch? I’m masked, not napping.

The Pinnacle is handsomest, the sailboat most user friendly, and Albert the most promising do-over.  I especially like the tree, rooted in the residue of it’s past promise.  But the Northwestern is the star, according to Charlie, who occasionally watches it on “Deadliest Catch” and who likens it to George Clooney (!) for its endurance of 16 years a a star.  Maybe because the boat has aged well, too, but I doubt it.  Me?  The boat’s okay, but  I’m just happy on the pier.  That measured response should be good for another trip.  Meanwhile, my stars are down low.  You be you: gulls and ducklings and lapping, sparkly water.


READ ING WITH A MASK: I’m currently reading Sara Paretsky’s latest mystery, Shell Game.  As usual, V.I. Warshawski is keeping Chicago’s powers-that-be, including politicians, on their toes, which is very satisfying these COVID and Trumpian days.  And adding to Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean, my intermittently read book that has, for Charlie, big boats doing dangerous things, my latest “in-between” book is Hope Jahren’s new book, The Story of More, which, even though it is about climate change and therefore COVID-pertinent, is engaging.  After reading her memoir, Lab Girl, which I loved, I am going to anticipate with pleasure anything Hope Jahren writes.  If you are a newbie, you might enjoy her recent NYT op-ed essay which is every person’s primer on a virus.  This makes mE think a list of favorite memoirs could be fun.


Friend Susan brought me some fresh cherries which I love, but thought early for homegrown produce.  She apologized and said these were from California, which she hoped was okay until Washington cherries — which are, of course, very special — were ready.  This could so have been Scott reacting with a sniff to a gift of early, bigger blueberries by noting they were”high bush berries. from New Jersey.”  I miss Scott and Bobby, even without Virginia tomatoes and  Memorial Day in Maine.



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We are one with “social distancing” and “shelter in place”, with boxed meals set outside the door, Charlie’s workshop masks at the ready, and my 2′ poker still good for pushing buttons and  better than anything else for keeping people at more than arm’s length.

Action Shot #16. Almost sightless, a hazard, but MASKED, I’m doing my part, Charlie says.

Well, goodness knows we’re trying.  No outsiders can come into our building, so Charlie brought his dog clipper over to cut my hair, tonsured as it has become.  He does not take suggestions for a more  subtle cut well.  He has upgraded my Internet, so I can become a proper Zoom-er.  No more my nattering away at statues, with an “unstable connection.”

The seagulls have returned, and  Charlie is trying to be one with them.  They bob and preen and pay no attention to his sqwaa-ck sqwa-a-ackng.  Neither do the invading pigeons.  But a  mezzanine lady shouted, “I wondered what kind of very big bird that was.” Hardly missing a sqwa-a-ack, Charlie called back, “I have a lot to learn.”


Besides the COVID19-related news and great graphics of the online NYT, I’ve spent my pandemic reading articles that help me make some sense of the chaos engulfing the world.

Lawrence Wright’s NYT essay and his NY’er interview are both about his research for and writing of The End of October, his just published, prescient novel about a pandemic  that started with a virus in Asia.  I learned that from history and science, we should have been less surprised and more ready.

Orhan Pamuk’s NYT essay about the classics of pandemic literature is a great Cliff’s Notes, plus wise analysis.  I am glad for his list and lessons and someday, when we are not living in and through this, I may read these, but not now.

Stephen King gives a great interview to David Marchese, who asks great questions.  Interesting that Stephen King, who wrote about a pandemic in The Stand,  was most surprised at how fast everything changed in real life, and thought having food, not fear, is most worrisome.

Every time I hear Trump say we are battling an invisible foe, which, he implies, we therefore cannot know,  I silently shriek AARRGGHH! I recall  Stephen Greenblatt’s NY’er article about “invisible bullets” or the atoms that Lucretius understood were the pith of  epidemics and recoil at the ignorance currently in Power.  Then I read Tom Friedman’s conversation with Dov Seidman on leadership.  It  was a gift, wise and pertinent, and I can breathe again.

Wolf Kahn died and a fresh look at the vibrant colors of his outdoors makes sheltering-in-place in Spring a tad more tolerable.  So did the work of other artists who rendered views from their windows. And as I am profoundly one with my one room — and Charlie and a view of the Ship’s Canal — room-rating is fun, maybe more for the art and the color, though books on shelves are fun, if you can see the disheveled shelf of current reading.  And I love that while virtually testifyingDr. Fauci’s room rated a 10.  But then,  he’s an all-purpose 10 in my book.  (I found a picture of the room, but I couldn’t find the room-rating, which I know I did not make up, though I would have if I had thought of it.)

OTHERWISE, Hope Jahren, whose memoir, Lab Girl, is among my all-time favorites,  has new book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where We Go from Here.   It’s true; I’ll read anything she writes, but who better than a well-read, well-traveled paleo-botanist researcher and teacher to think about the future?  I’ve just started the book and it’s already good, but anticipation is much of the fun.

Will McGrath’s memoir, Everything Lost is Found Again: 4 Seasons in Lesotho was fun because friend Mary’s stories introduced me to Lesotho some years ago.  I loved living two places for 35 years and was probably predisposed to like this book, which I did, but then, there on the last line of the author’s acknowledgements was thanks to Bill and [my friend] Mary.  Next I have Bill Holm’s memoir of his life in Iceland, The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland. 

Action Shot #17. Charlie thinks we’re social-distancing, but I am going rogue. Hee-hee.

First freedom stop after sheltering-in-place is lifted a  bit: a latte — when the sun is out and umbrella-ed tables can be set far enough apart.  Until then, read about coffee in the world, especially the third paragraph from the end which notes  Todd Caspersen’s Equal Exchange coffee company and all they are doing right.  Spilling all: Todd is Millie’s son and one of Charlie’s almost cousins from Southeast Minneapolis. Best neighborhood ever.

And don’t miss the sheep in the vineyard on YouTube.  Six hours of pleasant.



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THE PIER IS FREED! Good times are at hand.

In what surely ranks as a minor miracle, the Water Quality Project People have unlocked, de-fenced, and opened the Pier through August!  This is GREAT NEWS.   Though their reasons were probably rooted in community goodwill and profound wariness of my abilities as a performance artist, their actions came just in time to be one small antidote to the bleakness of COVID 19.

I tossed dried flowers and welcomed the Pier back to the people who walk.                                       Charlie thinks “coming back” makes it a zombie pier.  Sigh.  Who is his mom?



The Pier is a walker’s destination with no surfaces to touch. lean against, or sit down upon.  No “social distancing” problem, as it is still gloriously undiscovered.  Usually,  the wind is enough to blow away a person’s dreaded droplets of sneeze or cough, and more good news, the ducks and gulls and occasional dogs don’t care.

THE PIER IS FREED!  And for a bit each day, so are we all.

Surrounding that brief bit, is the too real ureality of. as Charlie keeps pronouncing the “pre-apocalyptic  dystopian reality” that we are living.  It’s a science fiction novel, he says, somewhat surprised, but up for it.   COVID 19 or no, Charlie and I are fine  He is driving me crazy with his pre-recorded admonitions:  SOCIAL DISTANCING! and    GOVERNOR’S ORDER–SHELTER IN PLACE! and I am keeping him on his toes by perpetually trying to go rogue.  He is more worried than I, but I am not foolish –yet –and I love that he is doing his best to keep me well.

BRIGHTENERS FOR THESE DAYS:                                                                                     I love this puffin.  I love the artist who looked at shoreline debris and saw art with purpose, process and joy — okay, horrifying joy.  It would be perfect for the freed pier.  Or maybe a gull or baby gulls and we in Seattle — and the Scots — could have a “Make Way for Scorries” moment.  I’m also sending  the Seattle Times article on to Richard Fernandez, the Pier Person who knows — for sure with two mentions –when an idea is really good.

One day Stephen Greenblatt’s NYer article noted that Lucretius saw, in The Nature of Things, “invisible bullets” or “seeds” which veer randomly and allow us to make choices.  The god-fearers of his day disagreed, as only a god decided.   Soon thereafter I read in the NYT of the ultraconservative Christian god-fearers of today dismissing the knowledge of scientists trying to slow, then stop the pandemic so much with us.  So history repeats itself.   Save me from “gut instincts” or “I just know” or ” I looked at lots of data” or “I read twenty-five books” or God knows.  As a Continuing Day Brightener, Stephen Greenblatt’s book, The Swerve, tells how Lucretius’ treatise remains known to us these 2000 years later, which clearly leads us to a great read about how information moves, a perpetual personal pursuit.

In his NYT obit, I discovered, and now love, Wolf Kahn’s paintings.  His alive colors of landscape are a great antidote to sheltering in place as glorious Spring arrives.  I think we’ve finished cherry blossoms and are into apple blossoms.  I’ll know more tomorrow when I walk the 4 blocks to have my pacemaker checked.  I have never been so looked forward to having my pacemaker checked.

My name is O’Hoot. I welcome you with too few (Irish) coffee nips.

I loved Jess Kidd’s more-than-a-mystery, Himself.  Maybe you have to be Irish to enjoy the familiar humor and ghosts, midst longing, questions, and the indomitable in pure Irish-speak.  Or maybe you don’t.




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The pier was new, beautiful, walk-able, inviting, fenced and locked.
It was scheduled to open in FIVE YEARS, when the whole tunneling project would be done.

Five years is a very long time.  I’m 80 years old in a wheelchair and, although I intend to live forever, you never know.  So I wrote to the City’s Project Director.  I noted the many Seniors in a six-block walking radius, the lack of other places to actually be out on the water, and the City’s efforts to be community friendly and to foster healthy lifestyles.  So why five years?  The pier is finished and though it is needed for trucks to haul the dirt dug up to make the tunnel, how about unlocking it on weekends?  FREE THE PIER!

I got a very nice note back from the Project Director, but freeing the pier was a no go.

                                                       Action Shot #14.  Being chagrined.                                                                            The pier is locked. No boats are docked.  No gulls have flocked.  Time to  FREE THE PIER.  

Some weeks later, the neighborhood newsletter named the three local artists hired to invigorate the boring fence.  And I had a thought.  So I sent a second note to the Project Director offering to be a performance artist, sitting on the pier enjoying a latte, reading a “pertinent” book, or just being one with the water.

And several weeks later, he responded.  FREE THE PIER!  (To be continued.)


Ballard Landmark Book Notes:  I read And enjoyed enough of Joanne Freeman’s Field of Blood Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War to prepare for attending her talk about the polarizing dysfunction and violent incidents of 1850’s Congress leading up to the Civil War.  The current parallels were obvious and many, and reviewers gave the book a rave, in part because of her  extensive research and cited sources.  So I was bound to love the talk.  (She is the daughter of my neighbor and spoke while visiting her mother over Christmas.)

It was a great talk.  She described her purposeful, but serendipitous 17 year search for violent incidents in the secretive Congress, which was secretive much  like today’s Congress is.  Other than C-Span and a still flawed Congressional Record,  how do we know what really goes on when the House and Senate meet?  Dr. Freeman searched government records, family letters of members and the 11 volume journal of the Clerk.  Newspapers, as we know them, were just starting and biased.  But the new telegraph was coming to the rescue.   Introductory Notes and Appendix 2 were about her efforts with information distribution and credibility and searching.

I loved the talk and loved finding her recent, great Op Ed piece in the NY Times.  With her learning, she provided context to note the rightness of Nancy Pelosi’s wonderful speech-shredding and the wrongness of Rand Paul’s public-naming of a possible whistle blower.  She is lively, learned, just a joy, who uses history to make current points and draw pertinent conclusions.  She would be a GREAT commencement speaker.

Right now I’m reading Think of a Number, a mystery by a  new author, John Verdon, whose main character is retired NYPD  Detective Dave Gurney, who lives in the Catskills but with a tie to Seattle.  So far so good, but compelling?  I’m not sure.

Enough, already. I’ll keep you posted on our Crusade to FREE THE PIER.   Every life needs purpose.

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Action Shot #9. Being one with the magnolia and apparently having more hair.



I love Timothy Egan and not just because he’s a NY Times columnist, a Seattle-r and Jesuit-trained, although he is, but his latest book Pilgrimage to Eternity is a great travelogue and liberal arts review, as he walks 1,000 miles from Canterbury to Rome, questioning his faith.  It doesn’t hurt that he has an extensive, varied, and quite wonderful bibliography including a cited reference to Roland, the [medieval] Farter, the only citation I found that provoked Charlie’s interest enough to look up from his newspaper to check him out.  By-the-by, Roland was a flatulist, not to be confused with a flautist, and his current exemplar is professionally called Mr Methane.  Good grief! I have failed as a mother.  No, you raised a male, said Kathy, mother of two males.  Sigh.

I am a big Reacher fan, but Jack Reacher’s latest adventure, mostly as a cardboard vigilante, in Lee Child’s Blue Moon, is disappointing.  I followed it with John Grisham’s The Guardians, which was an encouraging antidote.  It chronicles an Innocence Project-type lawyer as he goes about his work freeing innocent people who are unjustly jailed.  It was fiction, but based on the work of a real lawyer/Episcopal priest in Texas.

Had fun with reporter Bruce Mowray’s telling about a theft he had covered in Stealing Wyeths.  It took place in the early ’90’s in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the non-Maine home of the Wyeth family.  It was a “just the facts, ma’am” telling, but filled with the detail that living many summers in Maine’s Wyeth “neighborhood” made fun.  Had it been published a few years earlier, Roseledge Books could have had a field day.  A best-seller for sure.  Okay, okay.  I know that a RB best-seller was 3 copies sold in one summer.

Right now, I’m having fun with Martin Cruz Smith’s latest Arkady Renko mystery, The Siberian Dilemma.   He’s on his way to Siberia, looking for journalist/lady-friend, Tatiana, and rescuing her from the charms of an oligarch — or so it seems!

Enough for now.  Coming soon: much ado about Joanne Freeman and her book, Field of Blood:  Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War.



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Information comes and goes.
The how of it? Nobody knows.
I care.

This is not a post for everyone, maybe not for anyone, but the post is true to its title.  I have been thinking, again, about the flow of information: how; it moves, who changes it’s flow or content, and who finds and chooses to use it. Think about the crazy information trails from obscurity to foolish action to widespread disbelief in the Bedbug Incident or Pizzagate, but not today.         

Because, finally, the impeachment process has begun, and already people don’t know how to choose a source that will give them credible, current, newsworthy information  Already the impeachment inquiry is a lot of recorded information from a lot of sources, gathered by a lot of official bodies.  Where to look?  Who to believe? Where to start?  Who or what outlet(s) to follow?  Oh yeah, I am so ready. 

How about beginning with the two official documents that started it all: the whistle-blower’s complaint and the President’s summary of his phone call? Then add the pond ripples of official testifiers, their testimony and documents and you have a useful information trail to follow, though the record of the Congressional hearings will only be made public later, and the distractions will be ever with us.

Action Shot #8 Wondering. What makes beauty? Pause to consider. Color, texture, shape, growth, sunshine, and.., and…. Hard to pinpoint. Clearly, we need to keep going to the Botanical Gardens.

Add the coming circus of seemingly endless other primary records, e.g. tape of the President’s actual call, translator notes, notes from others listening in, other whistle-blowers chiming in, legal opinions, Congressional rulings, Judicial rulings, White House press interactions and walk-backs, etc.  Then add the wanna-sayers,  analysts and everyone else with an opinion and a bull horn. The problem is not in the number or variety or even the distribution of these records. No, the problem is figuring out what information you need and how to find it. Clearly, you need a map with routes built on  a visual image of an organizing scheme.

Scheme and image have to come together somehow.  That’s the fun of the challenge. Bibliographic chains used to work, and maps are always good, but two dimensional, although overlays help..  A maze or web come to mind, but they are too inflexible. An opening peony blossom works for the expanding sources, but the inter-petal links apparently don’t exist. Color could sort the political from the legal sources, but other variables, e.g. origin, authority, spread, influence, timing, point-of-view, need to be included, maybe.  (Have I said I love the NYTimes’ online graphics?)  Consider these three ways of thinking about the problem. 

 The complex of bare branches of a living tree might work. 

Carol Lee Chase’s painting ”An Order Shared” at Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis

Photographs of mathematicians’ blackboards “[with] swirling gangs of symbols sketched in the heat of imagination, argument and speculation.”  are food for thinking about possible variables which, when somehow combined, might  suggest a useful trail to follow.   

Jessica Wynne, photographer, “Do Not Erase.”  A collection of these images, will be published by Princeton University Press in the fall of 2020 some of which appeared in the NY Times (9/23/09). 

Finally, of course, a book, one of my favorites.  Barbara Ann Kipfer’s The Order of Things: Hierarchies, Structures, Pecking Orders is an unusual, useful, charming effort to sort things out and give them a place.  This was one of the hardest books I had to give up when I could no longer manage pages of a bound, paper book. And it is not available for Kindle readers, so I am remembering my years of pleasure in having it nearby.  Edward Tufte’s books are great graphic displays, especially, in this case, Envisioning Information, but they are data driven, and my information variables are not yet that established.

Epilogue:  Thinking about thoughts of a happy post-er:

I majored in philosophy, so now I  see, frame, and ask questions.                            I became a librarian, so now I search for the possibles.                                                As a trained researcher, I apply rigor and imagination.                                                With God’s grace and dad’s Irish tongue, I am still, ever an  arguer                        I am well-prepared for my life of little movement and much thought.  Sigh.


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